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The key to happiness... - Open Knowledge — LiveJournal

Apr. 15th, 2004

09:59 pm - The key to happiness...

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...is noting whatever you feel like doing...

..and doing the opposite.

[Update: yes, I realize that this isn't entirely true. But it's pithy, and it's mostly true. Most of the unhappiness in my life has been caused when I've allowed myself to indulge in short term pleasure rather than doing the work that I know is necessary to achieve my long term goals. For example, I want to have a lean, muscular body. A muscular body and low body fat ratios (in combination with a high nutrition diet) are correlated with longevity and good health. Yet when I feel anxious or bored, I eat chocolate chip cookies and Doritos. Although they provide a brief and certain pleasure, overall, whenever I indulge, it makes me feel even more undisciplined and unhappy.

Conversely, the times when I have felt the most satisfied have been those times when I have fought against my natural inclination. For example, I used to be extremely shy. But after reading how Albert Ellis overcame his own shyness, I began forcing myself to introduce myself to women I found attractive whenever I could -- at bookstores, parties, grocery stores, etc. I've met several very attractive women that way. Even when I was rebuffed, I felt good, because I had overcome my fear and had taken a chance. I'm no social butterfly even now, but I would feel comfortable introducing myself to any woman I found attractive.

On the whole, I think most people indulge in short term pleasures at the expense of long term goals far more often than they do the reverse. So whenever faced with a decision about what to do, l think people would generally be happier if they did what they didn't feel like doing. ]

Comments:

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From:herbaliser
Date:April 16th, 2004 02:28 am (UTC)
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um, yeah.
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From:harryh
Date:April 16th, 2004 02:27 am (UTC)
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Dude, delayed gratification is one thing, but if you don't eventually get to the gratification then you're kinda missing the point.
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From:evelynne
Date:April 16th, 2004 02:46 am (UTC)
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I need examples. At least three.
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From:lemonhd
Date:April 16th, 2004 02:51 am (UTC)
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I say, that is the key to success.
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From:kmo
Date:April 16th, 2004 05:38 am (UTC)

As Aristotle put it...

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The mean doesn't lie at either extreme, but if you aim for the extreme most counter to your natural inclination you'll fall short of it but hit closer to the mean than if you aimed for the extreme that seems easiest to achieve.
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From:vyus
Date:April 16th, 2004 06:50 am (UTC)
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this is probably a viewpoint that differs as people wire themselves differently. i happen to agree with your observation; i'm happiest when my short term deeds are aligned with the long term goals. the impulses to do stupid shit are loud; the desire for accomplishment is very subtle. listening to the subtle voice can be terribly difficult at times.

hell, sometimes when i resist the short term impulses, i realize i didn't want them in the first place. in those instances, delayed gratification turns into no gratification, and for that, i'm gratified. :)
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From:daligirl
Date:April 16th, 2004 02:59 pm (UTC)
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thank you for posting this. I think it is true, but I often forget.
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From:extremejessy
Date:April 16th, 2004 09:52 pm (UTC)
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Living with purpose. I think that I how I see that sort of thing.

Sure staying lean will increase longevity, but putting that longevity to good allows for a reason beyond wanting to live long.

Taking the time to work on your shyness allows you to grow.

All of this begets a more purposeful, or to some meaningful, existence.
I feel great when I am utilizing what is available to me, including me. Thanks for this post.
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From:h_postmortemus
Date:April 26th, 2004 01:32 am (UTC)
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The problem with long-term goals is that you need to plan for them. So you need to make long-term plans.

The problem with long-term plans is they are always more likely to be disrupted than short-term plans.

So you may make a lot of sacrifices in time, money and short-term gratification to achieve the long-term goal of an Adonis-like body. Than you're in a horrible accident and lose your legs. Or your sight. or you're diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, or contract mad-cow disease...

Of course the disadvantage of short-term goals and plans is that it's never possible to accomplish as much as with the long-term. So they may not be as satisfying.

ultimately I feel what works best is a balance. Long-term goals should be those with a pretty good chance of succeeding and unlikely to be disrupted. Short-term gratifications should be as low-impact as possible. Between the bad habits of doing drugs, smoking, drinking and over-eating I'd say over-eating is the least dangerous and most recoverable...
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